VALLEJO (CBS SF) -- A federal judge in Sacramento Thursday upheld a key piece of evidence that led to the arrest of Matthew Muller for the high-profile kidnapping of a Vallejo woman in 2015.
U.S. District Court Judge Troy Nunley denied a motion by defense attorney Thomas Johnson to suppress evidence Dublin police collected after finding Muller's cellphone at a home he burglarized on June 5, 2015.
Johnson said the warrantless search of Muller's phone was the "poisonous tree" that led to his arrest at his mother's South Lake Tahoe home on June 8 on suspicion of the kidnapping of physical therapist Denise Huskins, 30, from her Mare Island home on March 23, 2015.
The case was initially considered a hoax by Vallejo police, who held a news conference to question the account that Huskins and her boyfriend Aaron Quinn gave of the kidnapping. Huskins was found safe in Southern California two days after her disappearance.
Muller faces a possible term of life in prison if convicted. A trial is U.S. District Court in Sacramento is scheduled for Jan. 30, 2017.
Muller pleaded no contest and was convicted in Alameda County Superior Court September 2015 to attempted robbery, burglary and assault with a deadly weapon in the Dublin residential burglary case.
He was then indicted in the kidnapping case on Oct. 1. Muller entered a "not guilty" plea several days later.
After Muller was charged in federal court, Vallejo police Chief Andrew Bidou sent Huskins and Quinn a letter of apology.
The Vallejo Police Department was sued in federal court back in March for its handling of the kidnapping.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified financial damages from the Vallejo police department and its personnel for false and defamatory statements made about Quinn and Huskins, for false arrest and imprisonment and for emotional distress.
"They want justice and they do want to make sure that something like this cannot happen to anyone else," said the couple's attorney, Kevin Clune.
Through their attorney, the couple said the lawsuit was the first step towards getting their lives back.
"The only crazy part about this story is the way the police acted," said Clune. "There's virtually no precedent that we know of for police -- upon having someone just get out of claiming they were kidnapped and raped -- to immediately go on national TV and just completely ruin their reputations and turn their lives upside down."
KPIX 5 reached out to the City of Vallejo for comment on the lawsuit, but had not received a response yet as of early Tuesday evening.
According to Clune, Quinn and Huskins are still a couple.
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